Have you ever watched someone walk into the room and simply “own it” without uttering a word? It’s probably because they entered with good posture. Good posture not only puts a positive spin on your outward appearance, but it’s also one of the best ways to ensure that your entire musculoskeletal structure functions optimally.
At Apple Medical Centers, our goal is to give our patients in Chattanooga and southeastern Tennessee, the tools they need for better living. And sometimes all it takes is a simple tweak, like correcting how you stand or sit, to make an enormous difference in how you make your way through life.
Here’s a look at the importance of good posture and how you can get it.
What exactly is good posture?
Despite what the army movies or your mother have to say, good posture is far more than sitting or standing up straight, though that’s a great start. The ideal posture is one where your:
- Shoulders are rolled up and back
- Spine is neutral
- Hips are even
- Eyes are up, making your chin parallel to the floor
- Weight is balanced evenly on both feet
Too often, people think that good posture is one where your back is arched backward, with your chest puffed out. The trick to good posture, however, is to get your spine into a neutral position, where it’s only working to support your body, not reshape it.
Why is good posture, well, good?
Good posture is not only good, but it’s also critical to how your body functions. Not to put too fine a point on it, but much of everything you do, from simply going for a walk to swinging a tennis racket with friends, can benefit from better posture.
At the core of your musculoskeletal structure is your spine, which is ground zero for how the rest of your body functions. When your spine is in great alignment, it means that all of the surrounding connective tissue, namely your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, are handling a perfectly normal workload that’s spread out evenly. When your spine is out of alignment, it’s usually your beleaguered muscles that have to pick up the slack, which can strain them to the point of damage.
But that’s just one local problem with poor posture. If your spine is out of alignment, it also throws many of your major joints out of whack. For example, when your hips are uneven because of poor posture, it causes your knees and ankles to compensate for the misalignment, which means they’re not functioning as well as they should.
And this same process can take place in your cervical spine. Hunching your neck forward, which is commonplace these days as everyone stares down at screens, can't only strain your neck, but the negative impact can travel down your shoulders, elbows, and wrists, causing problems along the way.
The bottom line is that a spine that’s kept in a neutral, straight position has a systemic effect, encouraging the flow of resources throughout your body that enables everything to function properly.
Finally, let’s circle back to how you look, because if the health reasons against bad posture don’t sway you, maybe this will — good posture is associated with openness and confidence. Often called “power posing” by psychologists, standing straight with your head held high can not only command a room, but it can also marshall and calm any anxieties you may have.
How to get good posture
The road to better posture isn’t necessarily difficult — it just takes discipline — and one of the most important steps is awareness. It’s amazing how you can get swept up in what you’re doing, either sitting at your desk or simply puttering around your house. Set a timer on your phone that dings every 30 minutes or so to remind you to straighten out your spine and keep your neck up.
Positioning your screens to eye level is also a great way to encourage better posture in your neck, which can save you from considerable aches and pains down the road caused by tech neck.
Strengthening your muscles to hold your spine in a better position is also critical because your good posture will become more natural and easier to maintain with this type of support. Concentrate on your core muscles, which are your abdominal muscles and your back muscles. The abs are as important as the muscles in your back for supporting your spine.
There are no shortages of exercises for better posture, and we’re happy to sit down with you to come up with a plan that works best for your musculoskeletal structure.
If you want to straighten up for better health, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Or you can use the online scheduling tool on this website to set up an appointment.